The Essentials Of A Good Beat
Let’s not fool ourselves here; making a good beat is hard work. It takes time and precision and an almost uncanny ability to know just the right moment to add that downbeat or that backbeat. Even the great hip hop producers find making beats to be difficult at times. Don’t feel discouraged if you just can’t get a particular beat right, it happens to everyone. Take time to step back and review the basics it can be that you just overlooking something simple.
The flavor of the entire piece comes from you. There are a lot of famous musicians that get paid for mimicking other’s work but unless you want to create something that you have no emotional stake in, try to actually make something new.
What you make, what you produce, can be influenced by a number of ideas or events. There are a lot of current producers who draw upon the music of the 1970s for samples since that is the music they grew up to. The same is true for songs using hymnals and gospel pieces. The Wu-Tang uses dialogue from Kung Fu movies and Kayne West has even worked closely with Daft Punk to make something truly special.
Whatever flavor you want to add to your beat is up to you but be original. Draw inspiration from childhood favorites or the absurd.
The Beat Basics
The musical structure of your beat will help add the dimensions and depth needed to take it from good to amazing. While such structure often comes naturally to some it is always important to review the basics every now and then just to make sure that you have a grasp of the meaning and format. It is encouraged to go against the norm when it is right for the song or the mood but generally all songs follow the basic outline of an Intro, Verse, Chorus, and Bridge.
- Intro The Intro helps to set up the song before the verse and is usually used to convey the theme of the entire piece. Normally, the Intro is a brief instrumental with components of beats that will come into play a little later on. The Intro needs to be able to grab the attention of the listener much the same way writers use introductory paragraphs to hook readers. Even though the Intro is short, usually lasting only 5 to 10 seconds you should devote a lot of attention to it. If you have a bad Intro but everything else is great it may be difficult to persuade the audience to continue listening.
- Verse Technically, this doesn’t really apply to you but it is important to know the role of beats in the verse. The verse is akin to a poetry stanza and can either be complicated, simple, or contrasting. In beat making, the verse is characterized by the strongest use of instruments. The tone of the beat in this section helps to dictate the tone of the story being told through the spoken words of the verse. This is where the heart of the song really unfoldeds so it is important to use this to your advantage.
- Chorus The Chorus is also called the “hook” and for just reason. This is the part of the song that will most commonly get stuck in people’s heads. You can see why it is vital to have a good hook; you want your song to be in the minds of as many people as possible. If you’re producing the beats for the song you will generally save the repetitive beats for this section using more instrument activity as well.
- Bridge Popular music has begun to shy away from using bridges, probably for artistic effect. There is nothing wrong with using a bridge and it can actually be quite useful. The Bridge is used to connect different parts of the song together (hence the name Bridge). The Bridge allows room for creativity and the location of it really depends on the artists. When making beats, the Bridge can be used to group together two parts of the song with the same notes.
The science and the art of making beats is largely left to the creator so feel free to experiment until you find what works for you. Using the Basics as a template and guideline will make the effort much easier but if you feel the need to stray from it, go right ahead.
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